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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Christmas Joy

The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. Luke 2:10

Christmas is a time of great joy for those who are careful to celebrate the true meaning of the day. In our present time, this can be more and more difficult since we have so many distractions. We have to be careful when our children are young to teach the proper message for this most wonderful holiday.

As a child, Christmas represented a special day in our home because it was the one day my mom and dad were under the same roof intentionally to make the day special for my sister and me. My mom would call my dad after we were in bed. He would bring the presents and spend most of the night putting together bikes, doll houses or whatever we were getting. Everything in twos so there would be no confusion. It seems that we had a special sense that woke us up not long after our dad tried to close his eyes before we started with the hours of playing that was about to ensue. My dad would also be the one to come over to put up the foil Christmas tree with the rotating light. It was really very cool back then. We spent hours watching the tree turn from green to yellow to red to blue. Good Stuff!

As my children got older, it was important to give them opportunities to reach out to others. [Secret Sauce Alert: they have a special understanding about how blessed they are when they volunteer.] One year a local charity had a Christmas store which allowed parents to shop for their children and a separate store to allow the children to shop for their parents. My guys helped in the children’s section guiding the shoppers to items they might like and to then have them wrapped for the special unveiling. We all enjoyed ourselves and one of the volunteers told my sons to shop for something for me. They were under 12 years old so it was fun seeing what they thought would be cool for mom to open. One of the gifts I received was a pair of dangling earrings. Many of you who know me well know that I have just a few pair of earnings and on any given day, you will see me in the same earnings my dad gave me when I was in elementary school. They are the very same earnings that I have on in my “About Me” and Linkedin picture. Even though the dangling earrings were for a much more fashionable lady, I appreciate them, and still have them in my jewelry box.

Christmas also reminds me of a dear lady that is so precious to me. She is the director of the daycare and summer camp program at a church in my neighborhood. Making arrangements for three children during the summer can be a daunting and expensive undertaking. It is so important to find a venue that is affordable and enriching. Through word of mouth, I found out about this church program and was able to secure spots for the guys. The payment was due on Monday. You could pay ahead if you wanted to, but you needed to have your payment in when you dropped your children off. At the time I got paid twice a month which meant it didn’t coincide with the Monday schedule. The director was so wonderful to work with me. I would bring the check, but ask her to wait to deposit it. This is a blessing I mention to her often. Years later my youngest was even able to work as a counselor at the summer day camp. We always celebrate Christmas Eve by attending the service at this church. It has been a Valentine tradition for 14 years.

A special twinkle started when my guys were old enough to earn their own money and purchase Christmas gifts for each other. The thought and strategy that goes into these purchases are intense. There is a true and sincere expression with each selection. It really makes these Christmas mornings special. As time goes by, I know that I will have fewer and fewer Christmas mornings with all three. This year (2014) was our first year with my youngest celebrating in Thailand. But I am cherishing the ones that I have and thanking God every day for his first gift of love and the three gifts He gave me.

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